As one who despises the first day of any job and struggles with a ridiculous lack of self confidence through the first week, I decided to torture myself by counting up my recent employment firsts–four in three months. And I feel like I might be forgetting one.
Job one–event planning in Key West. I knew at the end of day one that something was not quite right. I forced myself to hang in for five weeks, however, thinking it was just my first-week insecurity run amok. Should have bailed much sooner.
Lesson learned: to never again ignore my inner voice, especially when it is screaming at me.
Job two–Maitre d’/glorified host. Actually, I enjoyed this job, despite the close friend of the owner who vented his intense anger at me because I didn’t recognize him my second, very busy night on the job and made him wait a half hour for a table that wasn’t the one at which he “always” sat. I knew I was making progress with my first-week syndrome when I casually mentioned to my manager that the guy at table 211 needed to tell someone other than myself how inept I was. When my manager laughed it off after personally taming Mr. Self-Important Regular’s ruffled feathers, I laughed with him. Definite progress. Unfortunately, the greater HR powers of the restaurant never understood what I was supposed to be paid. I really couldn’t live on the promised pay, much less…less, and it was only after I left Key West that I received my retroactive back wages a month later.
Lesson learned: that at least one decent manager existed in Key West, and that I could eliminate my first-week insecurity crap by simply doing my best and caring less.
Job three–Bartender. When I arrived for my first day at work and was handed a ring full of keys and a bank and was told to “go open the outside bar,” I put aside my first-day angst during a 20-minute endeavor to figure out which key went to which locked door, storm shutter, cooler, etc. A manager finally showed up to show me where a few things were that I “might need”–like ice and back-up booze. My first order was a virgin pina colada, during the making of which I burned up one rusted blender and laid hands on the other to will it to work. No tip. By the end of the shift, I’d concocted multiple “lemonade” drinks for a vacationing couple who said they hadn’t been home for months, three vodka/crans and a Bloody Mary. Total tip take: $19.
Lesson learned: My inner voice only needed to wink at me. Done and done.
Job four–Bartender. I have to commute almost an hour to another town for this one, but no matter. I was nervous for only the first half hour and then got right back into the ebb and flow of tending a locals bar very far off the tourist path. By my second shift I knew the cast of regulars. By my third shift, some of my former customers from my previous locals bar had found me, despite the distance. Very nice. It’s a decent job, for now, but I may have to supplement it with a second one.
Lesson learned: Lessons, lessons everywhere. Gotta recognize them as they happen; gotta learn from them as you can. Until the next one.